Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

In my last post, I mentioned Rebel Land as book I kept seeing at my public library but never grabbed until just recently. Another book in this same category is Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan by Jake Adelstein. Just like with Rebel Land, every time I’d walk by Tokyo Vice I was tempted to check it out. Then, a few seconds later I’d think about all the unread library books stacked by my bed. After coming to my senses I’d sigh a bit, leave Tokyo Vice on the shelf and continue my slow meander along the shelves. Finally, during one of my library visits that little devil in my ear whispered, “of course you’re reading too many books right now, but remember all that stuff in Misha Glenny’s book McMafia about the Japanese Yakuza? You enjoyed reading that, didn’t you? I bet there’s even more in Tokyo Vice.” Needless to say, I yielded to temptation and added Adelstein’s book to my towing pile of library books.

   Published in 2010, Adelstein’s memoir covers the decade he spent in Japan as an American expat. Fluent in Japanese and a recent graduate of Tokyo’s Sophia University, Adelstein began his career as an entry-level journalist’s for a Tokyo newspaper. After spending his early years in a Tokyo exurb waiting hand and foot on the bureau’s senior staff while covering the local news scene (mostly suicides) eventually his hard work and perseverance would lead to an assignment covering the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. During his years writing about Tokyo’s dark underbelly he would investigate gangland killings, illicit sex clubs, human trafficking and loan sharking. In his role Adelstein also searched for missing persons, including 21-year-old British hostess Lucie Blackman. (Her 2000 disappearance is the subject of Richard Lloyd Parry’s book People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman which was reviewed on Jo V’s blog in April.) His investigation of an elaborate criminal conspiracy involving Yakuza crime lords, money laundering, illegal organ transplants and government-protected informants would end his career as a reporter and nearly cost him his life.

I enjoyed Tokyo Vice and I’m dumbfounded why some people included it on such Goodreads lists like The Hate List and Books Not To Read. But love it or hate it, author Jake Adelstein and his publisher will probably have the last laugh. A movie adaptation of Tokyo Vice has received the green light and filming begins early next year with Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe as reporter Jake Adelstein. I can’t wait.

5 thoughts on “Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

  1. This sounds really interesting! I too was puzzled when you said that the book had been included on Books I Hate and similar lists on Goodreads, because it doesn’t sound like it’s a controversial or divisive book. So I looked into it and basically it seems that one user took it upon him/herself to add Tokyo Vice to all of these lists. If you look at the one-star reviews for Tokyo Vice, that particular user’s review of the book attacks the author, and says that the author is worse than the yakuza, but has no explanation for the vitriol except that he/she seems to hate journalists in general. Very strange!

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  2. Pingback: Middle Eastern Memoirs: Then They Came for Me by Maziar Bahari | Maphead's Book Blog

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